A community based survey was undertaken to assess the work record of patients with epilepsy in an area of high unemployment. One hundred and thirty seven epileptic patients were identified from a population of 23,837 persons of employable age registered with three urban group practices in North East England. The unemployment rate for economically active patients with epilepsy was 46% compared with 19% for an age and sex matched control population (p less than 0.01). Fifty nine per cent of patients with active epilepsy were unemployed. In those with an associated neurological or psychiatric handicap and those who were unskilled manual workers the unemployment rates were 79% and 77%, respectively. Patients with epilepsy were less likely to leave school with qualifications or undergo subsequent training or apprenticeships. They were more likely to be unskilled manual workers, single and living in rented accommodation. In an area of high unemployment patients with epilepsy have disproportionately greater difficulty finding work. High unemployment rates among patients with epilepsy are only one aspect of a spectrum of social and economic disadvantage.
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